Artist David King's latest series of works draws inspiration from unearthed family movie reels transferred to DVD and old photos found in thrift stores. He pulls from moments in these images then subtracts elements and injects his subjects into an abstract world of color, breathing a new life into them while nostalgically connecting with the past.
“It’s about remembering the past and respecting our time on this earth,” said King. “We are all moving through our lives and are only here for a short time. My children are young adults and my mother is 88. I feel like I’m in the middle looking back and looking forward at the same time. This body of work is related to my “Time Travel” series but because the figures are not immediate family members, the situations are more ambiguous and allow for multiple interpretations.”
The works are included in "David King - Transience and the Gift of Curiosity," which opens this friday at Hedge Gallery
and runs through Dec. 31.
Beginning in late 2020, King began experimenting with materials using oil paint on aluminum panels, doing monotypes and incorporating mirrors. These materials and processes allow the artist more versatility to cut, bend, scratch and engrave where canvas and board have their limitations. Seeing an artist in the middle of their career pivot their use of materials demonstrates continued fascination with process and the intrigue necessary to grow and learn.
“I’m excited to see what else it can do,” said King. “Incorporating mirrors allows the viewers to insert themselves in the narratives, creating another dimension. The viewers are now voyeurs, peeking into private moments and seeing secret lives from the past. The displaced figures removed from the original pieces can appear anywhere as we often find ourselves in unlikely and surprising places.”
Since retiring from being a full time educator at Chagrin Falls High school in 2014, King over the last several years has put more of his time into and focus on his own body of work. The time has allowed him the freedom to delve deeper into his curiosity and allow for the creative process to occur organically. In this series, the works imply unplanned narratives verses relying on any formula which might lead an artist towards stagnation. In King’s case, there seems to be a renewed connection to his imagination and a profundity towards exploration into what drives his work.
“I don’t have a formula for creating a painting,” King continued. “One thing leads to another and my curiosity drives me to investigate various narratives. Regarding the “gift” component to the series, the scale of time has shifted and upon my retirement as a full time educator, I am able to now focus on my personal body of work. This truly feels like a gift as I am able to spend my time being curious.”
Even though King seems to be steering away from specific familial reference material, his family and the innate human need for connectedness propels his work in a down to earth way, which presents as unpretentious and accessible. King’s brush work is intently masterful and expressively uninhibited. His knack for gradation, pulling colors and tones through his subjects to express light and shadow seems effortless and leaves an impressionistic resonance impressing upon the viewer King’s mastery of the pigment.
King taps into a controlled abandon, which is at the pinnacle of artistic achievement, and King’s work comes forth as unforced, natural and pleasing to the eye. It flows with graceful precision exemplary of masters. His subjects in their casual compositions contrasted against dream-like backgrounds offer the viewer an escape into the psyche of the artist.
In the piece “Phishing,” which depicts an older man wearing a fishing hat in a rolling chair holding a rod with an expression of fascination at what’s at the end of it, a woman dressed in pink, a ball cap on her head looking intrigued as another man bends down to pull something out of what we assume is water.
The subjects are consumed in rainbow colors and what looks like abstract waterfalls pouring around them, overwhelming the subjects. It is an interesting contrast of abstraction and impressionism and makes the viewer imagine what they might pull out of the water and what the artist is trying to convey.
“We’re all family and we have stories to tell,” said King. “The juxtaposition of the figures from the past and the ambiguous landscapes feel almost futuristic and bypass the present. The pandemic has slowed us down, allowing us time to be present and reflect on what is truly important in this life. Many inequities in the world are being addressed for the first time and there are attempts to level the playing ground. I hope this progress will unite us, allow us to see the world through one another’s lens and truly feel as though we are all family.”
There will be preview of “Transience and the Gift of Curiosity, New Paintings by David King” this Thursday, November 18, from 5:30-7:30pm, where viewers can get a taste of the show and perhaps stake their claim on purchasing a piece before the opening.